Strong rise in retail sales for March: ASX tracking 0.6% lower at noon

Market Reports

by Rachael Jones

The Australian share market dropped at the open and is now tracking 0.6 per cent lower at noon. WiseTech Global (ASX:WTC) shares are 10 per cent up today after reaffirming their 2020 guidance. Shares in Flight Centre continue to fall as do oOh!Media (ASX:OML). Healthcare is the sector leading the today today with Materials coming in last.

The S&P/ASX 200 index is 33 points down at 5,189. On the futures market the SPI is 19 points lower.

Broker moves

Credit Suisse rates Oil Search (ASX:OSH) as an Upgrade to a Neutral from an Underperform. The sell-off in the stock has brought back the value proposition and the broker considers growth is now appropriately priced. The main concern is that growth may not return even if oil prices recover. In 2021 PNG government negotiations could once again weigh on the share price. Target is reduced to $2.45 from $2.47. Shares in Oil Search (ASX:OSH) are trading 3.8 per cent lower at $2.41.

Local economic news

Australian retail turnover rose 8.2 per cent in March 2020, seasonally adjusted, according to preliminary retail trade figures released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).This is the strongest seasonally adjusted rise ever published in the Retail Trade publication, surpassing an increase of 8.1 per cent in June 2000 when households brought forward expenditure ahead of the GST implementation. These figures indicate unprecedented demand in March in the Food retailing industry, with strong sales across supermarkets, liquor retailing and other specialised food.

Company news

Orocobre (ASX:ORE) released their quarterly report today showing production from the Olaroz Lithium Facility was down 11 per cent on the previous corresponding period (PCP) due to the temporary plant shut down. The Argentine government imposed COVID-19 quarantine restrictions, which in addition to planned maintenance resulted in 21 days of lost production. Despite lower plant availability, cash cost of sales reduced by 3 per cent quarter on quarter (QoQ). Market conditions and product pricing continued to be challenging, however operational cashflow remained positive. Shares in Orocobre (ASX:ORE) are trading 3.6 per cent lower at $1.99.

Best and worst performers

The best-performing sector is healthcare gaining 0.7 per cent, while the worst performing sector is materials losing 2 per cent.

The best performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 is Wisetech Global (ASX:WTC) rising 10.2 per cent to $15.18, followed by shares in Pinnacle Investment Management Group (ASX:PNI) and Avita Medical (ASX:AVH).

The worst performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 is oOh!Media (ASX:OML) dropping 7.8 per cent to $0.71, followed by shares in NRW Holdings (ASX:NWH) and Flight Centre Travel Group (ASX:FLT).

Asian markets

Lower: Japan’s Nikkei has lost 1.3 per cent, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng has lost 0.7 per cent and the Shanghai Composite has lost 01 per cent.

Commodities and the dollar

Gold is trading at US$1,688 an ounce.
Iron ore price is 3.5 per cent lower at US$84.37.
Iron ore futures are suggesting a fall of 1 per cent.
One Australian dollar is buying 63.16US cents.